How Tamara Mellon Found Out She Was Being Underpaid

April 10, 2018
Updated 1mo ago

Equal Pay Day in the U.S., which falls on April 10th this year, signifies how many extra days an average woman has to work in order to earn the same amount as a white man did in 2017.

For black women, that date falls in August and for Latina women, it’s all the way in November - a whole 11 extra months of work!

“We should not celebrate it,” said Sallie Krawcheck, CEO and Co-founder of Ellevest, a female-focused investment platform, and formerly CEO of Citigroup’s Smith Barney Unit. “It’s a sad day.”

While we’ve all heard the numbers over and over again, unfortunately, Krawcheck said, “the numbers haven’t budged much” since last year.

And she’s not the only one who’s seen little progress.

“I’ll probably be 90 by the time the gap closes at this rate,” said Tamara Mellon, the COO of her eponymous shoe brand and co-founder of luxury retailer Jimmy Choo.

Mellon told Cheddar Tuesday that a recent push for wage transparency in the UK found that, in fact, maybe surprisingly, the biggest discrepancies were found in the fashion industry. She pointed out the irony, considering the sector is overwhelmingly geared towards women.

When Mellon was COO of Jimmy Choo, she realized she was being underpaid at the company she built from the ground up.

“I only really got to it by talking to peers in the industry or even at competing companies to figure out what they were being paid,” Mellon told Cheddar.

“We need to get rid of that awkwardness and the stigma of talking about pay and have more transparency.”

It’s about more than just fairness, though. Krawcheck said closing the gender gap would boost the global economy.

She said women tend to “put more of their earnings into their community, into their families, and when women have more money, they give more to non-profits.”

And a McKinsey study from 2015 found that equal pay would actually add $12 trillion to the global economy by 2025.

“Try to think about something that’s good for women that’s bad for men,” said Krawcheck. “It’s very hard to.”

For the full interview, click here.